Bangkok, Thailand

Page 3, Diary of a Sex Worker:

Tonight is a breezy night. The smell of lemongrass and thick curry comes in through my window. The air is thick with it. I am tired, it has been a long day, but I do not work tomorrow.

I have rubbed fresh lime between my toes. I will take my time with this. Outside the city is sweltering. I prefer this hour, when most of the city is in slumber. It feels manageable.

When I am in my bath I do not think about what happened during the day. I do not remember much at all of the past, because I actively try to forget. I imagine my customers do not remember either, and in that way sometimes I can think that it did not transpire at all.

Do we have a duty to preserve our memories? I do not remember any of my customers except the bad ones, who I remember like sharp cramps. The others I remember as one whole man.

They are together one whole man. It is a nervous and lonely, an adolescent and desperate, a helpless and curious, a guarded and cold, a distant and lying man. Together, I can feel this whole man wilt beneath my fingers when I wash him. I feel this whole man look curiously at me, and sometimes I let him see, because both this whole man and I have a short memory and we will not see each other again. I smell this whole man when he walks in and sometimes his eyes are full of fear, sometimes full of a loneliness that is so deep I am scared to touch him.

He lies to me with great confidence. I have never told the whole truth to this man, but I have told more truths than lies, though this whole man does not know it.

This whole man still surprises me. I have shared true moments of happiness with this man. The whole man and I rarely speak each other’s language, but between two people what really needs to be said? I think it is little.

Sometimes I have played with the whole man’s hair. And sometimes I marvel at the whole man’s body. It holds a man’s strength. Other times I have said nothing to this man, and he has said nothing at all to me. In spending time with this man, night after night, because night after night he comes, I have learned more and more about this man, and the many men have become one whole man, man himself, and sometimes I feel love for this whole man, not the individual men who make him up, but the whole man. Tonight is one of those times.

But much of the other times I feel disgust and repulsion and absolute hate toward the whole man. Because of this, I try every day to forget this man, and this is what limits me. I know. I give good service, but I do not give great service. Other customers buy the other girls apartments and cars. I know the whole man has an ego that can be caressed and controlled. I make them think they are special, I convince them of their power and benevolence. To them this is their worth. I cannot do this. They bring too much of themselves with them. It is too much – humanity.

If I did this too, there would be no more of me, because this last part is the part that supports the rest of me. I know that if I cross this line then my hopes will fade also. I will not know if they are real or if they are the lie I tell myself. This is my last part and I know it is not very strong.

In bits and pieces I have felt real happiness, rare as each moment is, and they have been fragments that make up a whole, adding up to a one whole happiness. Maybe that is another lie, but it is one that I tell myself.

It has been my experience that sometimes imagined affection feels real, and imagined joy feels real, and all these lies the whole man and I tell each other, they add up to a picture of if not truth, then at least a picture of a life.

Despite what some of my lady customers and even some of the men say, I am peaceful with this picture.

I do not know what I do not know, but I interpret what I see, and the lies and truths together have made that one whole man, just like they make my life, my one whole life. And in this life I have the money I have saved, and the house I bought back from the bank for my parents, and soon I will have enough to open a restaurant, clean and well-designed.

I will serve drinks made from vanilla and fresh dragonfruit. We will grind fresh curry paste every morning from kaffir lime leaves and garlic, and we will squeeze coconut milk into it.

I have no companion yet. Outside, I feel the spirit houses are awake. I will drink a glass of orange yogurt when I get out of the bath. The soap is like silk.


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